Best Dog Food for German Shepherds

best dog food for german shepherd

These high-energy Herding dogs have a rich history and have been a part of the American police force for years.

Even if your German Shepherd isn’t out on the streets busting bad guys, they will still need nutrient-dense food. 

However, depending on what you wish to do with your German Shepherd, there are some different foods that may work out better for your dog. 

German Shepherds are known to have hip problems due to breeding, so making sure that this large breed dog gets the proper nutrition is critical for a long and healthy life.

While this list is by no means complete, there are options on this list for puppies, food allergies, or performance needs that you can feed your German Shepherd for a long, happy, and healthy life.

Our best food choice for German Shepherds is Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food. This is a nutritionally dense holistic dry food that is specifically designed for large German breeds of dogs. This is also a great option for Rottweilers or Dobermans, making it great for houses with multiple large breed dogs.

However, just like humans, each dog has its individual dietary needs, so read on for other great options for your unique German Shepherd. 

Our Top Dog Food Picks For German Shepherds

  1. Dr. Garys Best Breed Holistic German (Best Dog Food for German Shepherds Overall)
  2. Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy (Best Food for German Shepherd Puppies)
  3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Large Breed (Best Dog Food for German Shepherd Seniors)
  4. Pro Plan Adult Large Breed (Best Budget Food for German Shepherds)
  5. Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed (Best Premium Food for German Shepherds)
  6. Royal Canin German Shepherd Loaf in Sauce (Best Wet Food for German Shepherds)
  7. Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach Large Breed (Best Dog Food for German Shepherds with Allergies)
  8. Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition (Best Dog Food for German Shepherds Who Need Extra Energy)
  9. Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable (Best Dog Food for Sensitive German Shepherds)
  10. Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food (Best Breed-Specific Dog Food for German Shepherds)

10 Best Dog Foods For German Shepherds Reviewed

All dog foods included in this list meet the standard AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. However, you should always talk with your vet before changing your dog’s food. 

Pro Tip: Any time you switch your dog to a new food, you should do it gradually. Start with 75% of their original and top it off with their new food for a few days. Then, 50/50 mixed and so on. This will help prevent upset stomachs. 

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic German

 

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat
  • Key feature: Holistic. 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 25.0% min CRUDE FAT 12.0% min CRUDE FIBER 4.5% max MOISTURE 10.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 456 kcal / cup
  • Type of Product: Nutrient-dense with multiple protein sources.
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Overall

German Shepherds are known for their high drive and loveable nature. Their unique, athletic build doesn’t require much maintenance. However, it does need proper nutrition.  

This nutrient-dense dog food is holistically formulated for large breed dogs. With protein from two different protein sources as well as green-lipped sea mussels for joint function, this food is all around a great choice for these gentle giants. 

Because this food also has a balanced source of both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, your German Shepherd Dog may see a shimmering difference in their coat. 

This food is easy to digest and all-around a good standard food for any German Shepherd. 


Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy

best dog food for yorkie puppies
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken By-Product Meal, Wheat Gluten, Corn, Oat Groats, Brewers Rice
  • Key feature: Specially formulated to support healthy joints. 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 28.0% min CRUDE FAT 14.0% min CRUDE FIBER 3.8% max MOISTURE 10.0% max. 
  • Caloric Content: 331 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Puppy food
  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Best for: German Shepherd Puppies

This exclusive breed-specific diet is specifically created for your giant breed Shepherd puppy, with the specific nutrients they need to thrive. The unique kibble form and texture are meant to encourage your pup to chew.

A unique combination of antioxidants and vitamin E helps your puppies’ immune system develop properly, ensuring that their body continues to grow properly.

Digestion is maintained since this breed sometimes struggles with stool quality by using highly digestible proteins and specific fibers. 

Glucosamine and chondroitin aid in bone and joint health as your puppy matures. 

After your German Shepherd puppy reaches the age of 15 months, it should be transitioned from puppy food to adult dog food for accurate nutrition throughout his adult years.


Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Large Breed

best dog food for yorkie seniors
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Meal
  • Key feature: Added Glucosamine & Chondroitin
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 20.0% min CRUDE FAT 10.0% min CRUDE FIBER 7.0% max MOISTURE 10.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 344 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Healthy Joint Support
  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Best for: German Shepherd Seniors

As dogs get older, sometimes they struggle to eat enough. Because quality food can help support your dog’s best health in their golden years. 

However, many large breed dogs can suffer from joint pain. The added glucosamine and chondroitin can help to keep your dog moving and enjoying life. 

  • Protein, L-Carnitine, and carbs are all required for optimal muscle maintenance and energy to engage in exercise.
  • Calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins are good for strong bones and teeth.
  • Vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants help support immune system health.

Also, Blue Buffalo offers no corn, wheat, soy, or chicken (or poultry) by-product meals.


Pro Plan Adult Large Breed

best budget food for yorkies
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Poultry By-product Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Whole Grain Wheat
  • Key feature: Budget-friendly formula that caters to large breed dogs. 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 26.0% min CRUDE FAT 12.0% min CRUDE FIBER 4.5% max MOISTURE 12.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 407 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Real meat, high protein kibble.
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Budget German Shepherd Food

German Shepherds are considered to be large breed dogs, even though some fall into the medium range. These powerful breeds can benefit from a large breed formula. 

For the price, it’s a great bonus that it offers probiotics, glucosamine, Omega fatty acids, and gut health support.

However, this budget-friendly premium food also offers high protein from natural sources. German Shepherds often have joint problems, so it is critical to make sure they have the protein and glucosamine they need.

No corn, wheat,big-breed soy, and protein from real chicken make these tender morsels a pup favorite. 


Hills Science Diet Large Breed

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Sorghum
  • Key feature: Essential Omega Fatty Acids. Congrotient. 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 20.0% min CRUDE FAT 11.5% min CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max MOISTURE 10.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 363 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Large Breed 
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Premium German Shepherd Food

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food is a high-quality dry dog food that your four-legged pal will love. It’s made with real chicken as the first ingredient, and it’s scientifically formulated to give complete and balanced nutrition that’s tailored to provide a distinct impact on big-breed dogs.

The natural components of glucosamine and chondroitin can help keep your Shepherd limber into their golden years.

Because overall health is a critical part of your dog’s life, this food offers a unique blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Furthermore, this premium kibble is made in the USA.


Royal Canin German Shepherd Loaf in Sauce

  • First 5 ingredients: Water Sufficient For Processing, Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products, Pork Liver, Chicken
  • Key feature: Breed Specific nutrition
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 6.5% min CRUDE FAT 4.0% min CRUDE FIBER 2.7% max MOISTURE 81.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 891 kcal/kg, 343 kcal/can
  • Type of Product: Large Breed nutrition that’s easily digestible with high moisture for picky eaters.
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Best for: Wet Food for German Shepherds

This complete canned food can be served on its own or mixed with dry food. It includes healthy sources of lean protein like chicken for German Shepherds over 15 months.

This canned food is perfect for keeping your German Shepherds coat healthy and shiny. Because there is added glucosamine and chondroitin,fish-based this wet food helps maintain healthy joints. 

Because it is highly digestible, this wet food is perfect for older dogs or picky eaters. It also is packed with vegetables that provide essential nutrients for your German Shepherd.


Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach Large Breed

Natural Balance L.I.D Small Breed Bites Salmon
  • First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Barley, Rice, Oat Meal, Canola Meal
  • Key feature: Large Breed Formula
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 26.0% min CRUDE FAT 12.0% min CRUDE FIBER 4.5% max MOISTURE 12.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 373 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive stomach fish based formula for large breeds of dog. 
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: German Shepherds with Allergies

With real salmon as the first ingredient, this fish-based dry dog food is made for dogs with food allergies. Some meals and even corn can often cause a dog’s coat to be dull or dry flaky patches. 

Pro Plan Sensitive Skin offers not only a limited ingredient list, but they also don’t have soy, wheat, or any artificial colors added to their kibble for easy digestion. 

Your large breed dog will benefit from the boosted Omega-3 and Omega-6 that salmon provides, and ground oatmeal is a great source of easily digestible calories. 

Furthermore, this food even has a boost in natural prebiotic fiber to help optimize gut health.


Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition

Taste of The Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Peas
  • Key feature: Non-GMO balanced nutrition
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 22.0% min CRUDE FAT 9.0% min CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max MOISTURE 10.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 358 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Large Breed
  • Life Stage: All life stage
  • Best for: German Shepherds Who Need Extra Energy

Gentle Giant’s food is crafted with natural ingredients. This food is super-premium for your German Shepherd. Full of nutrition to make sure your German Shepherd has energy.

Packed with nutritious protein, non-GMO vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients, this food is the pure energy boost that your German Shepherd needs. Grain and filler-free and wholesome ingredients for your German Shepherd of any age. 

However, this food is packed with nutrition, and Gentle Giants also offers your dog prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion. 


Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable

Hill's Science Mini Breed Sensitive Stomach and Skin Chicken
  • First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas
  • Key feature: Coldwater Salmon is the first ingredient.
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 26.0% min CRUDE FAT 15.0% min CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max MOISTURE 10.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 388 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Coldwater Salmon for sensitive stomachs
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: German Shepherds With Sensitive Stomachs or digestion problems.

This kibble is perfect for German Shepherds who are suffering from digestion issues. Solid Gold Leaping Waters offers a unique kibble that helps to regulate gut bacteria and the microbiome to support a healthy digestive system.

Because this kibble offers a single protein source, it’s grain-free and gluten-free. With simple ingredients like chickpeas and a unique blend of twenty superfoods, Solid Gold Leaping Waters is perfect for German Shepherds with sensitive stomachs. 

With a boost of Omega-3 and Omega-6, you’ll see a healthier coat because of all the good fats. Perfect for any adult German Shepherd. 


Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier Adult Dog Food
  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Brown Rice, Oat Groats, Chicken Fat
  • Key feature: Unique nutrition specifically for German Shepherd dogs. 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: CRUDE PROTEIN 22.0% min CRUDE FAT 17.0% min CRUDE FIBER 5.5% max MOISTURE 10.0% max
  • Caloric Content: 321 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Breed Specific for German Shepherds. 
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best for: Breed-Specific Nutrition for active German Shepherds

Your German Shepherd will go crazy for Royal Canin dry dog food. Because Royal Canin has been making food since 1968 and was founded by a vet. This food is packed with proper nutrition to keep your German Shepherd active and healthy. 

Because German Shepherds have a unique muzzle, these kibbles are uniquely designed specifically for these dogs. 

Digestible fiber and proteins help keep your pup’s gut healthy. However, this food doesn’t stop there. It adds fish oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin to help support these loveable giants. 


Guide To Buying Dog Food For German Shepherds

german shepherd

When choosing balanced dog food for your German Shepherd, you need to consider a few factors.

Macronutrients Your German Shepherd Needs

While most foods that are on the market will meet minimum nutritional needs, some dogs may need more. Puppies and new mothers will need a different formula than a senior dog.

However, German Shepherds often need a unique addition to their dry kibble to support their large breed bodies. 

Moderate to High Protein

Dogs are omnivores and require both proteins from animal sources and plant matter daily. However, German Shepherds are known to have joint problems. 

Having the right amount of protein in their diet can help support their frame and, in turn, their joints.

Growing German Shepherds should have around 22% protein. However, adults, only need about 18%. 

Because not all proteins are made equally, but many German Shepherds benefit from added Omegas and Glucosamine. 

High Fats

Having fat in your dog food doesn’t mean that your dog will become obese. Because fats are essential for puppies, lactating mothers, healthy skin, and is a necessary source of energy for dogs. 

However, if your dog is overweight or older and inactive, higher fat foods might not be suited. It is important to talk with your vet about the health and weight of your dog. 

Carbs

Carbs are a key unit of energy for the fun-loving German Shepherd. And these are essential for the optimal health of your German Shepherd. 

However, dogs need some of the nutrients that come from carbs. Still, they don’t necessarily need carbs themselves, almost like we need the iodine in salt but not necessarily the sodium. 

Because carbs are also a key component of healthy digestion, carbs are not something you should worry too much about unless your pup is overweight. 

How To Choose Food For Your German Shepherd

First, you should always talk to your vet about your dog’s specific needs. Dogs with medical conditions often require unique diets. So knowing what your dog needs, you can narrow down the best food.

Limited Ingredient Formulation (LID)

Dogs with food allergies will often need a limited or unique ingredient kibble. This often means that you are removing a single type of grain, soy, or protein from your dog’s kibble. 

A limited or elimination diet can help sensitive dogs live a healthier life, and these types of diets can help reduce symptoms associated with allergies. 

If you notice dry skin, vomiting, or loose stools, talk to your vet about food allergies.

High fiber

Fiber is essential for gut health, and dietary fiber can come in many different forms in dog food. Fiber commonly comes from plant matter. 

However, this leads to a debate in the pet world about if grain-free is healthy or not for dogs. 

Because most dogs don’t rely on fiber as an energy source, they do still benefit from the added prebiotics and probiotics. These living bacteria can help them to digest their food better. 

Some German Shepherds may benefit from having extra fiber in their food.

Vitamins and Minerals

Having the right amount of vitamins and minerals is essential for any dog to live a long, healthy life. Dog food must be approved to meet AAFCO nutrition guidelines

However, just because they meet the minimum requirements doesn’t mean that your German Shepherd doesn’t need more nutrition. While we know that too much is a bad thing, your German Shepherd would benefit from food that is rich in Glucosamine and Chondroitin. 

Because antioxidants can also help to keep your dog healthy, if they have a chronic condition, you should talk to your vet about your dog’s individual needs when it comes to supplements. 

The Right Sized Kibble

German Shepherds have a unique muzzle. However, not all kibbles are the right size or shape for your German Shepherd.

Large breed dog food offers larger kibbles that are still easily digestible but easier for a German Shepherd’s bigger mouth.

The larger pieces can also help to ensure that your dog is properly chewing their food before swallowing. This also helps your German Shepherd to digest their food better.

Caloric needs

Because German Shepherds have such a wide range of weight and often poor hips, it can be hard to gauge how many calories your dog needs. 

Most German Shepherds need between 900 and 1700 calories per day. However, you should keep your German Shepherd at a low, healthy weight. Learn more about this in the article we wrote called How Much Should I Feed My Dog, to prevent your dog from becoming obese.

Some things that you should keep in mind:

  • Your dog’s body weight
  • Your dog’s activity level
  • Your dog’s age
  • The quality of the food you are feeding
  • How many treats your dog gets

German Shepherds work best off smaller meals throughout the day. This can also help prevent bloat. 

Working German Shepherds will need far more lean protein and calories than a senior who just chills at home all day. So it is critical that your German Shepherd is getting everything they need to thrive in their lifestyle.

FAQ

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about dog food for German Shepherds.

Is dry or wet food better for German Shepherds?

Your German Shepherd should be eating dry kibble daily to help keep their jaws strong and their teeth clean. However, you can add wet food as a treat or add moisture to their diet. 

Both foods will meet the minimum nutritional recommendations for your German Shepherd. 

However, we don’t recommend a wet food-based diet. It seems to work best when treated as a treat or a supplement or for senior dogs that are missing teeth.

What should I do if my German Shepherd is a picky eater?

First, check with a vet to make sure it’s not a more severe problem. Then feel free to check out different foods. Sometimes adding a little water or pet-safe broth to kibble can help to entice them. 

Don’t feel like you need to go out and get some special gravy topper for your German Shepherd. They are full of salt and preservatives and are not good for your dog. 

Should I switch foods or keep serving the same one?

If your dog is happy and eating the food you are giving them, feel free to stick with the same kibble. It will help prevent upset stomachs from food transition.

You can switch up wet food within the same brand if you would like to offer your dog different protein options.

Is Grain-Free Dog Food Good For German Shepherds?

Unless your dog has grain allergies, your dog should be consuming grain. Because grain offers quite a bit of nutritional value to your dog’s diet, we recommend keeping the grain in your dog’s food.

However, there is still some debate on the impact of using grain-free dog food long-term and with puppies.

Our Verdict

Your German Shepherd needs a balanced diet to live a long and healthy life. While there are quite a few different choices when it comes to picking the best food for your dog, you shouldn’t feel intimidated. 

Most of the foods on this list are good for many dogs and their needs. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian. 

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food is the best choice for a dense food that was specially designed for German Shepherds.